By Mary McDougall
Ikea has come up with a plan to help some of the world’s most polluted cities breathe easier.
The global furniture giant will start making products out of agricultural waste in India, meaning farmers no longer have to burn it.
The initiative, called “Better Air Now,” will provide Indian farmers with a use for unwanted rice straw, which is often burned. Smoke from the fires is one of the major contributors to northern India’s pollution crisis.
Ikea, which opened its first stores in India earlier this year, plans to buy the straw and turn it into a renewable source for Ikea products. The company’s ambition is “to create a model for how to reduce air pollution that could be replicated in other mega cities,” it said in a statement on Thursday.
Pollution in India is believed to be responsible for as many as one million deaths a year.
Data from the World Health Organization released in May gave India the unenviable distinction of having nine of the world’s 10 most polluted cities.
New Delhi’s air is so polluted that residents could live as much as nine years longer if the city met WHO standards, the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago estimated in a study last year.
Ikea has taken other steps to increase sustainability in recent months, including a global ban on single-use plastic at its stores earlier this year.
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